Saturday, April 13, 2024

Scientology Sued Over Never-Opened ‘Money Pit’ $100 Million Building in Florida


In the end Scientology will be taken down over money. Interesting, huh? A wealthy couple from Irvine, California are suing the Church of Scientology and its leader David Miscavige for fraud. Long time members of the cult, Luis and Rocio Garcia filed in federal court in Tampa, Florida. They say they’ve invested in something Scientology calls the “Super Power Building” in Clearwater, Florida that was begun in 1998 and has never opened.

The Garcias have found a high powered Tampa attorney, Theodore Babbitt, who’s already held a press conference down there and started up a P.R. machine.

The story– with a video you should watch– appears in today’s Tampa Tribune.

Scientology, of course, denies all the accusations. But the lawsuit comes at a propitious moment, as Lawrence Wright’s book, “Going Clear,” is a bestseller and sheds new light on the religious cult that has been accused of all kinds of things from fraud to brainwashing to torture. All of the last year has been a bad time for Scientology. Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie “The Master” depicted a fictitious version of the cult’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard and his Cause– a cult that walked and talked like Scientology.

The group was hurt earlier last year when Tom Cruise’s wife, actress Katie Holmes, managed to “escape” from their marriage to New York. Holmes managed to get the quickest Hollywood divorce ever– it took two weeks and Cruise signed on the dotted line. But during those two weeks, Scientology was blamed for the break up. Ex Scientologists came out of the woodwork. Cruise, it’s thought, acquiesced quickly rather than expose the group to more investigation.

Another book, due shortly, is from Miscavige’s niece, Jenna Miscavige Hill, who publicly left the organization and has since been very vocal about its inner workings.

This week, Kim Masters, one of my favorite colleagues in the Hollywood press, wrote a great piece about her own experiences dealing with Scientology.

I’ve had my own encounters with this scary group– that’s for another time. For now, the Garcias, they say, are just the beginning as Babbitt courageously takes on more cases down in Tampa.



Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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